Closed-back headphones provide isolation from external noise and prevent sound from leaking out. They are great for recording, monitoring, or private listening. In 2023, there are many stylish and well-designed closed-back headphones available on Amazon in the USA, Canada, and Australia. This article covers the 10 best based on sound quality, aesthetics, comfort, and overall performance.
When choosing closed-back headphones, sound quality is the most important factor. But design, aesthetics, comfort, and features also play a big role. These headphones should not only sound great, but look great and be comfortable to wear for extended periods.
For this list, over-ear and on-ear closed-back headphone models were considered. Noise-cancelling capabilities, premium build materials, and a stylish, modern design were prioritized. Models from top audio brands like Sony, Sennheiser, Focal, Meze Audio, and others were evaluated. Finally, availability on Amazon in the USA, Canada, and Australia was confirmed.
Here are the 10 best closed-back headphones by design available in 2023 on Amazon:
1. Sony WH-1000XM5
The Sony WH-1000XM5 is the latest flagship wireless noise-cancelling headphone from Sony. It has a refreshed design with a slimmer profile and lighter weight than its predecessor. The soft fit leather headband and plush earpads provide exceptional comfort.
Sony tweaked the 40mm drivers to provide improved noise-cancelling, sound quality, and call quality. The sound signature is balanced with clarity, deep bass, and detailed treble. The touch controls are intuitive and easy to use. It also features Speak-to-Chat which automatically pauses playback when you speak.
With a 30 hour battery life, multipoint Bluetooth connection, and a premium aesthetic, the WH-1000XM5 is one of the best designed closed-back headphones available.
2. Apple AirPods Max
The Apple AirPods Max stand out with their unique design and build. The knit mesh canopy headband provides comfort without any clamping pressure. The anodized aluminum and steel build give them a premium, luxe aesthetic.
The sound quality reproduces recordings faithfully with crisp highs, punchy bass, and a wide soundstage. The H1 chip enables seamless connectivity with Apple devices and hands-free Siri access. Active Noise Cancellation helps block out ambient noise.
With smart sensors that detect when the headphones are on your head, and 20 hours of battery life, the AirPods Max are one of the most advanced and fashionably designed closed-back headphones.
3. Focal Bathys
French audio company Focal is known for their premier speakers and headphones. The Focal Bathys are their flagship closed-back over-ear headphones with an elegant marine inspired design.
The Bathys have 40mm Beryllium drivers that reproduce sound with accuracy, detail, and spaciousness. The solid aluminum yoke and steel grills give them a sturdy yet stylish look. Memory foam ear cushions molded to the shape of the ear provide exceptional noise isolation and comfort.
With a neutral, natural sound, innovative industrial design, and luxury aesthetic, the Focal Bathys deliver sensational audio performance in a stylish package.
4. Sony WH-1000XM4
The predecessor to the WH-1000XM5, the Sony WH-1000XM4 remain one of the best designed closed-back headphones thanks to the comfortable fit, effective noise-cancelling, and dynamic sound quality.
Touch controls allow you to adjust volume, accept calls, and skip tracks with ease. Wear sensors detect when you have the headphones on and can pause playback automatically. Up to 30 hours of battery life is possible on a single charge.
With a lightweight and comfortable design, intuitive controls, and best-in-class noise cancelling, the WH-1000XM4 are still one of the top choices for travel and commuting. The design remains modern and aesthetically pleasing.
5. Sennheiser HD 820
Renowned German audio company Sennheiser are known for their audiophile-grade headphones. The HD 820 are their flagship closed-back model, delivering brilliant sound in an elegant design.
The unique glass transducer domes house the drivers and provide incomparable sound transparency and spatiality for closed-back headphones. Premium materials like aluminum, steel, and leather give them a sophisticated look.
While expensive, the exquisite attention to acoustic engineering and industrial design make the HD 820 one of the most striking high-fidelity headphones available.
6. Sony MDR-Z1R
With 70mm magnesium alloy drivers, the Sony MDR-Z1R produce a rich, natural sound with authoritative bass and sparkling treble. The soft leather headband and ear pads provide luxurious comfort.
Sony employed cutting-edge acoustic engineering like vibration controlling fibers and Beat Response Control to deliver exceptional audio quality. High-quality Kimber Kable wiring ensures pure signal transmission.
Crafted for discerning listeners, the visually stunning MDR-Z1R exemplifies Sony’s pursuit of audio excellence through state-of-the-art technology and materials.
7. Meze Audio 99 Classics
Meze Audio is a Romania-based company crafting headphones with unique designs. The 99 Classics are designed and assembled by hand in Europe. The wooden ear cups are made from walnut wood for organic beauty.
The lush ear pads and adjustable padded headband provide a comfortable fit. Vivid and engaging sound matched with the sleek wood and metal aesthetics give the 99 Classics their elegant appearance.
For those wanting natural materials and hand-crafted design matched with lively sound, the Meze Audio 99 Classics deliver stand-out visual flair.
8. Focal Stellia
Another winner from Focal, the Stellia closed-back headphones combine Focal’s excellent sound with harmonious industrial design. The granular, porous Berillium drivers offer rich acoustics.
Made in France, the Stellia feature solid aluminum yokes, comfortable leather and microfiber ear pads, and breathable underside fabric for long-wearing comfort. Focal’s signature luxury aesthetic shines through in the subtle gold accents.
With authoritative bass, scintillating treble, and expansive soundstage enclosed in a sophisticated package, the Focal Stellia engages both your ears and your eyes.
9. Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X
German audio engineering company Beyerdynamic are revered for their studio-grade audio gear. The DT 700 PRO X are a stylish set of closed-back monitoring headphones.
Soft velour earpads and a padded headband provide comfort for extended wear. The sound is clear, balanced, and honest for audio production and analytical listening. The all-black color scheme gives them an understated yet modern look.
For a durable, great-sounding closed-back headphone optimized for studio use, the Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X is a safe choice.
10. RØDE NTH-100M
Australia-based RØDE specialize in microphones but have expanded into making headphones for monitoring. The NTH-100M are closed-back headphones crafted for studio use.
The sound signature is designed for accurate monitoring over long sessions. The clean aesthetics, solid build, protein leather ear pads, and aluminum treated headband are comfortable and durable. Detachable cables add convenience.
With a natural, balanced sound and rugged yet stylish studio design, the RØDE NTH-100M provide excellent performance for the price.
Closed Back Headphones Buying Guide
Here are some key factors to consider when choosing closed-back headphones:
- Sound Quality – This is the most vital factor. Seek headphones with clarity across the frequency range, accurate reproduction, and a sound signature suited to your taste.
- Noise Isolation – Closed-back models provide isolation from external noise but check just how effective they are for noisy environments.
- Comfort – Over-ear headphones should be worn comfortably for long periods so prioritize ample padding and adjustable fit.
- Aesthetics & Build – Headphones are personal items so their look and feel should match your style. Seek quality materials and craftsmanship.
- Extra Features – Look into extras like active noise cancellation, intuitive controls, battery life, carrying case, wired/wireless modes, etc.
- Budget – Determine how much you can spend. Flagship models provide premium performance and design but cost more.
- Purpose – Consider where and how you plan to use the headphones, whether casually listening, traveling, monitoring audio, etc.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the best closed-back headphones:
What are the advantages of closed-back headphones?
Closed-back headphones isolate sound so you don’t hear ambient noise and external sounds don’t leak in. This makes them suitable for recording, critical listening, or private listening.
Should I get wired or wireless/Bluetooth headphones?
Wireless headphones offer convenience but audiophiles prefer wired for uncompressed audio. For portable use wireless is recommended. Some headphones offer both wired and wireless connectivity.
What does over-ear vs on-ear mean?
Over-ear headphones have earcups that completely enclose your ears. On-ear headphones have smaller earcups that rest on your ears without surrounding them. Over-ear models generally provide better isolation.
How important is headphone amp pairing?
For high-impedance audiophile models, using a headphone amp can make a noticeable difference in providing enough power. But most consumer friendly models sound perfectly fine driven from regular devices.
Is noise cancellation necessary for closed-back models?
Not necessarily. Passive isolation from the closed-back design helps block noise. But active noise cancellation uses microphones to further reduce ambient noise electronically. It’s useful in very noisy environments like planes.
What acoustic drivers materials are best?
Beryllium, titanium, magnesium, and aluminum alloy drivers are light and precise for delivering detailed sound. But any high quality dynamic drivers, even standard Mylar, can sound great when properly tuned.
The 10 closed-back headphones covered here encompass both audiophile-level sound performance and aesthetically pleasing designs. Models from leading brands like Sony, Apple, Sennheiser, and Focal represent the pinnacle of acoustic engineering and industrial design. For closely listening to music in private, closed-back headphones deliver an immersive listening experience through isolation and high-fidelity reproduction.
Whether seeking luxury materials, portable convenience, studio-grade performance, or modern styling, there is a closed-back headphone here to match your needs and style. Audition these headphones to experience their unique blend of stellar sound, noise isolation, and fashionable designs. Your music listening will never be the same.